Just days after federal environment minister Greg Hunt said he was “delighted” the government was investing in energy efficiency through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has refused to get behind the body.
The CEFC has long been on the chopping block, with former Prime Minister Tony Abbott having been set on repealing the profit-making body.
CEFC advocates had hoped a change in government leadership would have meant the body, which has been instrumental in attracting private sector investment into clean energy projects, would now be safe.
However, yesterday’s (Tuesday) question time has thrown this hope into doubt.
Asked by opposition leader Bill Shorten whether the CEFC had a “crucial role to play Australia’s efforts to tackle climate change”, Mr Turnbull said the government had to ask whether the CEFC was necessary.
“Indeed, it was the government’s policy to abolish it because we do not support government banks for the simple reason that new government banks are performing roles that can be perfectly adequately fulfilled by the private sector and are not necessary,” Mr Turnbull said.
He said it must be asked whether the body was “an appropriate use of government money”.
When pushed on whether the government would scrap or keep the body by Mr Shorten, Mr Turnbull would not be drawn.
“We recognise that we have not been able to secure the support of the Senate to abolish it and it is continuing. It is being, as far as I can see, well run within the limits of its mandate,” he said.